May 5th, 2009 - Bob Chmiel
It's everywhere...The front page of USA Today... ESPN the Magazine... Even Oprah is talking about it! It's Twitter... and it's taking (tweeting) the nation by storm.
Twitter is the hottest social media network, and based on its recent growth, it just might be here to stay. While most of you are familiar with Facebook, Twitter is comparatively new in relation to its popularity. Its unique communication capabilities lend itself to being a recruiting tool that all recruits and families need to know about. With that in mind, I decided to sit down with NCSA Social Media Director, Brian Davidson, to get the inside scoop.
BC: For our readers who are new to Social Media and more specifically, Twitter, what exactly is it?
Twitter is a free social networking and micro-blogging service that allows users to post on the web short updates or tweets. These tweets are always 140 characters or less and can be sent from a computer or mobile phone.
Essentially, users are constantly updating the web with very short posts of whatever is going through their mind. These posts can also be directed at a single person or groups of people. Take a look at this video to get a better sense of what I'm talking about:
BC: How long has Twitter been around? It seems like recently it has exploded in terms of popularity, what do you attribute this to?
It has only been around since 2006, but in March 2009 alone, Twitter had a growth rate of 1382%! I attribute this to a few factors. One, it is extremely easy to use for users and developers. This allows users to master it quickly, but also allows developers to create new computer programs to enhance the service.
Two, it is a very authentic relationship. Users "follow" other user updates. The conversation does not have to be two-way.
Also in sports in particular it allows users to control the message they send the world. Coaches don't need to use ESPN to talk to fans. They can communicate directly.
BC: How is Twitter currently being used in recruiting?
It is really fascinating. At first Twitter was unquestionably best known in the Tech world. However, in the past 6 months, the amount of athletes and coaches using the service has taken off. At first, Shaq was the best known user but soon multiple athletes were using the service and their use brought a great deal of mainstream media exposure.
The first college coach to use the service that I know of was Pete Carroll. But now dozens, if not hundreds, of coaches are currently "tweeting" about their programs to showcase both their personality and their recruiting message.
BC: What is your opinion about the future of Twitter in recruiting?
I believe two things will happen. One, coaches will push the limits with Twitter and begin using it to contact recruits directly. Since it really isn't a text message the NCAA can't regulate it like they can a phone. Coaches are essentially updating a website which would be very hard to legislate.
Secondly, I believe the NCAA will find a way to restrict coaches' use of the service. At this point, I believe coaches will set up separate accounts only for recruits and ask them to contact the coaches directly. This would work the same way that coaches can currently take a phone call from a recruit at any time, but cannot always call a recruit.
However, in all honesty, the service is so new that it's very possible that someone will invent a new way to use Twitter for recruiting. My eyes are definitely watching to see what happens.
BC: What advice would you give recruits who are currently using or are thinking about creating an account?
I would make sure they keep their updates very professional, and be willing to share their updates with any college coach on the service.
BC: Can athletes and families follow NCSA on Twitter?